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Nonprofit certifies LA Zoo as sensory-inclusive venue

The nonprofit KultureCity certified the Los Angeles Zoo as an inclusive venue for people with sensory regulation challenges or sensory needs, zoo officials announced Friday.

“Los Angeles is known for its cultural diversity, but we’re also committed to looking at all elements of diversity and creating a space where every single member of our communities is welcomed, included and can truly belong,” said Denise M. Verret, CEO & director of the Los Angeles Zoo.

“In order to provide an experience where our guests walk away with a renewed connection to wildlife and nature, we had to take the time to learn about sensory needs and adapt experiences for the benefit of everyone. Our goal is to co-create a future where people and wildlife thrive together, and that involves everyone, including those with sensory needs.”

The zoo said that sensory regulation challenges or sensory needs are often experienced by people with autism, dementia, post traumatic stress disorder and similar conditions. As part of the certification, the zoo has trained staff to help people with varying sensory needs, and sensory-inclusive components were added throughout the zoo to help people enjoy the zoo without becoming overstimulated.

People who need to access the zoo’s sensory resources can receive noise-cancelling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards and weighted lap pads.

“This is a key milestone in the city of Los Angeles’ efforts to become the most accessible big city in America,” said Stephen David Simon, executive director of the the Los Angeles Department on Disability. “The L.A. Zoo’s commitment to creating a safe, nurturing space where children and adults with sensory needs can more fully enjoy the zoo’s amenities furthers the city’s commitment to proposing, developing and implementing policies, programs, services and activities that improves the quality of life for all persons with disabilities.”

People can download the KultureCity App for their smartphone to learn more about sensory features available at the zoo and how they can access them. More information is available at lazoo.org/zoo/kulturecity.

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